By Nat Forester
We live in a time of growing concern for the state of mental health and depression. When our minds suffer, our families and workplaces suffer with us. The nuances of mental health and depression are complex and affect many people on a personal level. While both men and women may experience depression, be it from external causes or our genetic makeup, is it possible that men experience depression more acutely than women? It is our responsibility to learn how depression interacts with the minds of some of the most important people in our lives, our friends, fathers, brothers, nephews, and sons.
The National Institute of Mental Health finds that men are less likely to seek support as they struggle with depression. Men may experience social pressures and conditioning that encourage a more stoic, lonesome approach to healing, but this goes against the scientifically accepted approaches to mental health management. A man can be affected by depression any age and season of life, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, and to be willing to rely on the help of loved ones and professionals.
Some symptoms occur more frequently in men. Depression can take away anyone’s moments of peace and restfulness, but men may be statistically more likely to experience disruptions to their sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation comes with a host of other difficulties: irritability, loss of motivation, physical fatigue, compensating by oversleeping, etc. Most dishearteningly perhaps, findings show that a high number of women with depression attempt suicide, but men are more likely to be successful in taking their own lives.
Because men are less likely to seek appropriate help for mental health, they may become more vulnerable to unhealthy patterns such alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse. Adults with mental health concerns and depression can be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder. Depression may cause an addictive tendency which can, unfortunately, exacerbate the negative feelings that already come with mental illness.
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These threats to the mental and emotional well-being of the men in our life may feel overwhelming, but depression is a curable disease, and there are strategies that we can implement in our own lives, and in the lives of those affected around us.
Seeking professional help can decrease the severity of depression and reduce the time it takes to recover. Creating an honest dialogue with loved ones about our emotional health and coping mechanisms can give us safe spaces and a pool of experience and knowledge to draw from. Break up large or intimidating tasks into small ones; avoid overwhelming yourself with options.
Mental illness does not need to be such a powerful foe. By talking about mental health, we take away its taboo. By caring for each other, we take away feelings of isolation. And, by relying on professionals, we reveal that a depression is common and treatable. For men, some of these steps may be especially challenging, but hard feelings are felt by all, regardless of gender. There is no wrong way for a man to feel, there are only wrong ways to use our feelings when they call us to action.